Mental Health Awareness: Calling Out the Crap

I normally enjoy listening to CBC Radio’s “The Current,” a typically intelligent and informative current affairs show broadcast weekday mornings. But this week, they did a story that seriously ticked me off, and really disappointed me. It was presented as a story about PTSD, except it wasn’t a story about PTSD at all. And in doing so, “The Current” and the CBC just furthered the same kind of misinformation about mental illness that we already hear way too much of.

By the time I finished listening to the story, I was starting to imagine a rant in my head that I wanted to be able to say to the producers of “The Current.” When it gets to the point that I’m starting to compose whole speeches in my head, I usually take that as a sign that I should write something down, if only to organize my thoughts and calm myself. As I started writing down some ideas, I felt moved to express those thoughts in some sort of meaningful way. I find myself increasingly drawn to the cause of public awareness about mental health issues, and this felt like an opportunity to try to combat some of the inaccurate messages out there about mental illnesses.  Continue reading “Mental Health Awareness: Calling Out the Crap”

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Being a “High Functioning” Person with Mental Illness: Blessing or Curse?

 

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve found that I’ve been hearing several references to “high functioning” people with anxiety disorders. In the examples I heard and read, it was the anxious person themselves who used the term “high functioning,” usually in the context of something like, “I might be high functioning, but I’m still struggling underneath,” and suggesting that being “high functioning” puts them at a disadvantage because people don’t “see” their illness. I actually heard one person use the term “The ‘not sick enough’ stigma.” It got me wondering what calling someone “high functioning” really means, particularly in the case of folks like me who have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Continue reading “Being a “High Functioning” Person with Mental Illness: Blessing or Curse?”

Redefining Bravery (in a life steeped in anxiety)

Like a lot of folks with anxiety disorders, I have an ongoing monologue in my head pretty much every waking moment (also known as “self-talk), in which I constantly judge myself and the things I’m doing (or have done). Usually I don’t even notice I’m doing it (not consciously at least), it’s just second nature.

Too frequently my inner monologue consists of throwing a lot negative words at myself, words like “weak,” “stupid,” or “loser.” After all, I think, how else could I describe someone whose anxiety issues make it ridiculously hard to do things everybody else just takes for granted, things like grocery shopping, eating with friends, or going down to my basement (there could be mice down there!)? It frustrates me that I have to expend so much energy just doing the things that I consider the bare minimum for normal functioning, things that I feel like I should be able to do with ease. Everybody else does it, why can’t I? Thoughts like these leave me feeling like I’m less than everybody else, and, sometimes, kind of ashamed of myself.  Continue reading “Redefining Bravery (in a life steeped in anxiety)”

My Instant “Therapies”

It sometimes feels like my path of recovery from my Anxiety Disorders is a bit of an unending slog (and in some ways, I suppose that’s what it will be). Most days, I do my best to keep moving forward on that “journey of healing” (as I cornily sometimes call it), which includes things like visiting my psychiatrist, working on the exercises connected to my Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, writing down my insights and struggles, and attending an anxiety/depression support group. Those are the (sometimes-challenging) paths that I’m taking with the hope (and belief) they will lead me towards recovery.

But there are other things that I do from time to time to help me feel better along the way, particularly when I’m feeling low-energy or especially anxious. I wouldn’t necessarily call these “therapy” in the larger sense, but sometimes I just need a little something to help me get through the tough days until I feel well enough to get back to working on my “proper” therapy.  Continue reading “My Instant “Therapies””

The Mental Health Writers’ Guild

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I’m really proud to announce that my blog has been admitted to the Mental Health Writers’ Guild. The Guild is a wonderful community of writers and bloggers who write pieces related to mental health and mental well-being. It exists to encourage positive, informative, inspirational writing about mental health, and I’m honoured to be in the company of these amazing, like-minded writers (you should definitely check them all out!). Plus I get to display the Guild’s cool logo on my blog, which you’ll see at the bottom of each of my pages! I feel grateful to be a small part of a really terrific movement, all working towards furthering a greater understanding of mental health issues and reduction of the stigma attached to mental illness.

Movie Characters with Anxiety Disorders (Are There Any?)

When I woke up this morning, the first thing that popped into my head was “It’s Oscar day!” I love movies and I love the Academy Awards, so today is like an unofficial holiday for me, as I count down the hours to the start of the big event. Hype! Dresses! Upset victories! Buzz-worthy moments! I love it all.

As I was musing about all things movie-related this morning, one thought that popped into my head was how rarely I could recall seeing characters with Anxiety Disorders portrayed in movies, especially compared with other mental illnesses. I wasn’t sure if that was fact or just my perception, so I did what I often do to investigate an issue of interest to me: I put together some stats. So off to Wikipedia I went!  Continue reading “Movie Characters with Anxiety Disorders (Are There Any?)”

The Passenger on My Bus: Reflections on Driving Ahead with Anxiety on Board

Anxiety disorders have the ability to make your world smaller and smaller as you avoid an over-growing list of places, activities, and situations that trigger more anxiety than you think you can handle. My anxiety disorders have led me to avoid (and miss out on) a lot over the past few years: attending social gatherings, going on trips with my husband, travelling to my home town to visit my family. During those years, I’ve been trying diligently to resolve my anxiety issues, waiting for the day when I expected I would finally banish my symptoms and feel “ready” to be a full-fledged participant in the world again. In the meantime, I’ve continued living in my little bubble of avoidance and safety. Continue reading “The Passenger on My Bus: Reflections on Driving Ahead with Anxiety on Board”

“I don’t think you’re getting it – I have an anxiety DISORDER.” (An imaginary conversation.)

Talking about my anxiety disorders has been really helpful for me, as I discussed in my first blog post. And while sharing my story has typically been met with sympathy and understanding, sometimes my attempts at being open have also been met with some ignorance. For example, when I shared my diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder with an acquaintance recently, he told me that I had such a good life, what did I have to be anxious about? He said I just needed to gain some perspective, and reflect on how good I had it compared with some people in this world, and that would take care of any anxiety I felt.  Continue reading ““I don’t think you’re getting it – I have an anxiety DISORDER.” (An imaginary conversation.)”

“Projects:” My Useful Preoccupations

In my last blog post, I talked about my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), specifically how I feel like my mind drifts over a period of weeks or months from one major worry to another, while my feelings of anxiety remain constant, no matter what the specific source. I do find that sometimes there is a way to somewhat hijack that process, to temporarily divert my mind to something less distressing. Although I sometimes wonder how beneficial it is in the long run.  Continue reading ““Projects:” My Useful Preoccupations”